Dressing for Wellness: Episode 8

In this episode of Dressing for Wellness, Taylor (Inherent Clothier CEO) and Steven (Art Director) talk to their friend Chaz about his experience as a Black man growing up in the very white area of Colorado Springs. They discuss the Black Lives Matter movement, the George Floyd protests, and the necessity of conversation around difficult subjects.

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Episode Highlights:

  • Chaz’s biggest goal as a person of color during the Black Lives Matter movement is to have conversations with people.
  • As a person of color, there’s a lot of history that you feel like you need to live up to, or not, and it caused significant confusion in identity for Chaz.
  • Chaz has been called “the whitest Black person” throughout his life.
  • In high school, Chaz learned code switching and started to “speak Black” or “speak White,” change how he dressed, and more.
  • He wanted to be a video game designer but quickly learned that he wasn’t good at programming and had to completely change his career goals, so it took him a while to regain confidence.
  • There’s a difference between Black Lives Matter the movement and Black Lives Matter the organization.
  • In fashion, Black people didn’t have a style icon until the 1950s when Black people were first allowed on TV.
  • Chaz’s wife is white, and she had an eye-opening experience being with him at a Black barber shop.
  • Inherent aims to embrace all cultures in their designs.
  • Chaz thinks appreciation tips into appropriation when there’s no recognition of where something originated and when credit is not given; for example, that Frank Sinatra’s style is inspired by Nat King Cole and that almost all popular music originated with Black artists.
  • Chaz grew up solidly middle class and economically privileged, but his father grew up in poverty, so he grew up understanding the situations that lead people into gangs for some short-term benefits in pursuit of longer term success.
  • Chaz has experienced a lot of the “angry Black man” or woman stereotype, so he’s conditioned himself to behave in a way that is more acceptable to white people.
  • The closest experience that Taylor and Steven have had is feeling the need to hide their tattooed hand in their pocket during a meeting, and it is nowhere near the same thing.
  • What happened with the George Floyd protests is that it opened more people to conversation.
  • If you’re having mental health struggles, talk to someone.
  • Chaz has started having conversations with people about posts he sees that are problematic, but he does it selectively to conserve his energy.
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Notable quotes:

  • “You have to take care of your own personal mental health before you can really even enjoy what the world has for you in situations and relationships.” –Taylor
  • “I very much understand that living where I do, I’m 1 of very few Black people that people see. So I almost always feel a little bit of a pressure to try to be, I don’t know, good? Because I know that this is going to be one of the few interactions with a Black person.” –Chaz

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